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Meet Chuck Skewes of Ullman Sails San Diego in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chuck Skewes.

Chuck, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started sailing at age 5 up in the Pacific Northwest. My parents joined a little yacht club on Vashon Island where we lived and they had a fleet of these little wood dinghies called El Toros. At age 11 I won a major regatta and then found my competitive side. So I advanced to larger and more popular boats and race all I could.

In high school, I got a job on a commercial fishing boat that would go to Alaska and fish for 3 months every year. I did that for 9 years starting at the age of 15. Going to school the rest of the year. When I was 22 I needed a job since I was no longer in school. At that time all the best sailors in the world were Sailmakers. So I decided that I wanted to be a sailmaker to advance my sailing skill.

I got a job at a small loft in Seattle and worked most of the year there and still went to Alaska in the summers. Later on, I decided to quit fishing and bought the sail loft that I worked for. I have seen a lot of changes in the industry now that I have been in it for 30 years. I have had a lot of success in sailing all around the world and get to travel every month if not more. I now manage 3 locations, Pacific Northwest, San Diego and Puerto Vallarta Mexico.

Has it been a smooth road?
Not always a smooth road. I started in Seattle and went through a divorce and after 911 I sold my home and sail loft to move to San Diego. I needed sunshine and a fresh start. When the economic crisis hit, I decided to work harder and smarter to keep things up. We grew 300% during that period.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Ullman Sails San Diego story. Tell us more about the business.
We build and service sails for sailboats. Our specialty varies slightly from high performance to long-range cruisers. We are known for having fast sails in One Design classes and durable offshore sails. I am most proud of the training I do for my employees making sure they know all the details of our products and what we represent.

Secondly, I am proud to have incorporated PTFE thread into cruising sails. It is a thread that is U.V. inert solving a problem many cruisers have had for years with U.V. degradation. A W.L. Gore company representative that sails and is a customer asked why we don’t use it. With a little R&D and support on their end, we did prototypes and started using it on certain sails. Now we use it on all our offshore sails. This has been a huge breakthrough and it all started with a discussion over cocktails.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Yes, more automation. Sails are very labor intensive. They also require a lot of precise work. I see in the future not only more durability but a reduced cost to the end user. We look for new ideas weekly. I have meetings with our technical advisors over this quite often.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chuck Skewes, Artie Means

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